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Engine Makers Share Views on The Role of Independent MRO

Rolls-Royce and GE opinions on aftermarket competition seem to be more similar than they used to be.

HANOI — Executives from leading engine OEMs stress that the predicted maintenance demand for their products will continue to ensure a large role for independent MRO organizations.

Many independent MRO providers are concerned about the trend of OEMs having an increasing presence in the maintenance sector, making it tougher for the independent companies to compete. However, airlines will need a range of options to meet maintenance needs for growing engine numbers, executives with Rolls-Royce and General Electric said during Aviation Week’s MRO East Asia conference.

MRO capacity for Rolls-Royce engines will have to more than double over the next 15 years to cover all the existing engines and those already on order, said Scott Wood, Rolls-Royce’s regional marketing executive for Asia-Pacific. Rolls “can’t do it all,” so it will rely on other organizations stepping in. These would include companies partnering with Rolls and those who set up independently.

Rolls is “happy for independent [engine] shops to open up,” said Wood. They do not need Rolls’ permission, and it is not something the manufacturer would want to prevent.

Wood said Rolls has learned from its experience with the RB211engine, where second-hand market value was reduced somewhat due to “preconceptions” about a lack of overhaul options, he said. “That’s a trap we’re not going to fall into with the Trent” engine types.

The manufacturer “has lots of discussions going on with with many organizations,” regarding business models ranging from joint ventures to fully-independent operators, said Wood.

GE is also not looking to shut out independents from handling MRO needs for its engine customers, said Mithun Biswas, the company’s regional marketing director for Asia-Pacific. GE prefers an “open playing field” to make sure the MRO market meets all its customers preferences and gives them flexibility.

MRO demand for GE engines is expected to grow at an average rate of 5-6% a year to 2020 and beyond, said Biswas. The manufacturer knows there is a significant ramp-up coming in engine heavy maintenance checks, based on its calculation of the number of shop visits its in-service engines have had.

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